LINKS OurTom INDEX Romance Gallery Contact The Soldier Timeline Links The Man
Our Tom - The Blamey Enigma 

Lady Olga Blamey

Tom Blamey’s first wife Minnie (nee Millard) died after a long illness in 1935. They had two children. Charles (Dolf) who died in a plane crash in 1932 while serving in the RAAF, and Tom Jnr, who served as an artillery officer in the Middle East and Greece during World War II.

Tom subsequently married Olga Farnsworth, at St John’s Church Toorak, in 1939. At the time, Tom was 55 years-old and Olga was a mere 38 years. Olga worked as a designer of fashion advertisements for the local Melbourne press. After much controversy and argument from the Australian government, Olga joined her husband in Palestine, in August 1940. Over the next five years, Olga acted as a hospital visitor for the Red Cross. She comforted the wounded, wrote letters home for those unable to write for themselves and generally catered for the day-to-day needs of Australia’s troops. From this start in Palestine, right up to looking after Australia’s POWs at Changi prison after the war in the Pacific was won, she was unstinting in her efforts on “our boys” behalf, and gained fulsome praise for her efforts from the Army and the Red Cross.

Olga Blamey
Olga Blamey

Other than these sketchy details, little would be known of Olga Blamey and her time spent with Tom, were it not for her attempt in 1954 to have her memoirs published. The manuscript of ‘Shellfire and Orchids’, which Angus and Robertson declined to publish, provides a fascinating insight into what it meant to be in love with a powerful military figure. The manuscript, which is sub-titled, ‘A tribute to a soldier from his wife’, covers the period from Tom’s departure for the Middle East in 1940, up until his death in 1951. The manuscript is beautifully and precisely written, with many heart-wrenching passages describing the damaging effects of war on men, especially her husband Tom. There are also many humorous moments among the tragedies and her unswerving loyalty to Tom and to the Red Cross is particularly evident.

Unfortunately, given that her manuscript is all about her beloved Tom, very little information about Olga herself surfaces. This is an ongoing area of research for those of us working on 'The Blamey Enigma'. As we discover more about this formidable woman and her relationship with Tom, we will post further information on this site.

Bernie McDonald
Loch 2010.

Lady Olga Blamey, Commandant,
Australian Red Cross Society,
onboard the 2/1 Australian Hospital ship
Manunda, 1945

Tom and Olga arrive back in Australia after
Tom's official visit to the U.S. - June 1944


Olga's Red Cross Officer Certificate

Olga's OBE Citation

This project is benefiting from material researched from within the collections of the Australian War Memorial Commander In Chief

LINKS OurTom INDEX Romance Gallery Contact The Soldier Timeline Links The Man

Updated February 2013.

Website: AB Creative Edge.

Copyright 2010
No images or text may be republished in any format without prior permission.